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The citizens of Chester's Mill deal with daily problems such as acid rain, an undead mother, and an ageless teen.

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July 15, 2014 at 07:37 AM EDT

It’s hard to tell whether tonight’s episode of Under the Dome was better or worse than last week’s episode. On one hand, it surprised us all with a Junior story line that was actually interesting. On the other hand, this story line was not given enough attention because the episode spent too much time revisiting the science vs. faith debate through a low stakes crisis of the week—something Under the Dome has tried and failed at before.

This week, the town’s people had to deal with acid rain. Everyone was gathered at the diner and was preparing to head outside to collect more rain water. To their surprise, however, the rain was red and burned their skin. Unfortunately, the acidic rain looked more like cherry Kool-Aid, to borrow Norrie’s description, and didn’t seem all that threatening. Needless to say, the characters started to argue about the cause of the rain and how to stop it. Rebecca Pine, our least favorite high school science teacher, believes there’s a scientific reason for the rain, while Lyle (Dwight Yoakam), the town’s barber and new religious fanatic, believes the rain is the beginning of the apocalypse and is a sign that everyone needs to repent. He fanatically tells Rebecca, “There’s a new god in Chester’s Mill. It surrounds and embraces us all. It’ll show no mercy to infidels.”

Lyle kidnaps Rebecca in an attempt to convert her to his new faith system—let’s call it Domism. He ties her up in this old tool shed and proceeds to torture her with the acidic rain until she gives in to his fanaticism. Luckily, Barbie, Junior, and Julia arrive in time to save her. Julia tries talking Lyle down by bonding with him over their shared blind faith in the Dome (This week’s meeting of the moron club). Julia insists that the Dome has a plan and asks Lyle to help her achieve it. Thankfully, Rebecca brings their crazy bonding session to an end when she breaks free of her restraints and burns Lyle’s face with the acid rain.

It’s clear the crisis of the week’s only purpose was to revisit the science vs. faith drama and create conflict with quick resolution. The writers do away with the acid rain plot in a short scene that shows Rebecca spraying the lake with some chemical mixture.

While all of this is happening, Barbie and Julia, who keep forgetting that they have only known each other for about two weeks, deal with relationship problems. Barbie is starting to take issue with Julia’s blind faith in the Dome and people—as he should!—while Julia has problem with Barbie’s cynicism and belief that the town needs a firm hand to keep everybody in check (It seems like Barbie is a fan of Hobbes). Everything comes to a head toward the of the episode when Barbie and Julia find out about Rebecca’s plan to “selectively thin the herd” because of resource shortage. Julia immediately rejects the plan, while Barbie takes a moment to consider it, which leads to Julia laughably saying, “I thought I knew you. I was wrong.” Of course you were wrong to think you knew him! You’ve only know each other for two weeks! Is anyone really surprised at how quickly and easily their alliance fell apart?

Julia and Barbie’s relationship issues point to Under the Dome‘s problem with characterization. The writers expect us to put faith in and root for Julia, a character who is fairly unreliable, has shown poor judgement, and has done very little to earn our confidence. Moreover, her continued faith in the Dome makes no sense because the Dome’s presence continues to kill people. There is very little evidence to support her claim that the Dome is protecting them. When Barbie tells Julia, “Belief only gets you so far,” he has a point. Not sure what the writer’s intentions are, but it is becoming increasingly easier to root for the relationship developing between Big Jim and Rebecca.

NEXT: Pint-size relationship drama

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Chester’s Mill residents suddenly find themselves cut off from the rest of the world by a mysterious, impenetrable barrier, which surrounds the town in this Stephen King adaptation.
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